CBD has really taken off in recent years and has generally been accepted as a legal, non-psychoactive constituent of the cannabis plant. The market is thriving with different CBD products from vape pens and oils to tinctures and topical balms. Consumers use CBD for a variety of reasons: as a daily health supplement to nourish the body, or even to treat the symptoms of a number of medical conditions.

One thought that crosses the minds of many consumers is “will CBD show up as a positive drug test for cannabis at my workplace?” And what a valid question this is! Even when we observe the molecular structure of both essential cannabinoids CBD and THC, the two appear to be very similar off the bat.


As unfortunate as it is, many workplaces engage in policies where employees are pre-screened for many drugs, including cannabis. This may occur during the interview phase or can even be a cyclic ritual depending upon the company and whether it is a government position. There are a variety of ways to test for cannabis in the body, including analyses of hair, urine and saliva.


When drug tests are conducted in the workplace, they are more than likely going to be urine tests with the aim of detecting THC and the main metabolite of the psychoactive cannabinoid, 11-nor-delta9-caboxy-THC (THC-COOH).

This means that CBD isn’t even being tested for. Most often, your place of work should have no issue with you ingesting formulations of CBD, as it is non-psychoactive. In fact, it is the stigma surrounding cannabis that is going to raise suspicion more than the CBD itself.

Within the US, many employers follow the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) guidelines of testing. These guidelines use a cutoff of 50ng/mL when it comes to urine screening tests. If a urine test turns up positive, it is then confirmed with a gas chromatography/mass spectrometry test which has a cutoff level of 15ng/mL for the THC metabolite THC-COOH.

Drug test work cannabis


It is reported that urine tests have very few tendencies to show positive test results when it comes to non-psychoactive cannabinoids. However, if a user is mega-dosing for a certain illness or is consuming very large amounts of CBD, metabolites may initially show up in urine samples. Nonetheless, this could later be proven as a negative result via chromatography-mass spectrometry testing if it is conducted.


It is worth noting that CBD is still derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, a species which naturally produces the cannabinoid THC. Therefore, even if your CBD product is derived from industrial hemp, it could still contain trace amounts of THC.

A scientific paper titled Evaluating the impact of hemp food consumption on workplace drug tests published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology presents the potential issue of THC content in consumables that contain hemp seeds or oil produced from the hemp plant. This includes those such as various CBD products available on the market today.


The authors of the paper state that, “The presence of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in these foods has raised concern over their impact on the results of workplace drug tests for marijuana. Previous studies have shown that eating hemp foods can cause screening and confirmed positive results in urine specimens.”

The study's objective was to determine the levels of THC and THC-COOH present after the daily ingestion of hemp oil, with THC levels mimicking those commonly found within hemp seed products.

Fifteen subjects consumed oils containing THC doses ranging from 0.09mg to 0.6mg over a ten day period. Their urine samples were then tested for cannabinoid content using radioimmunoassay measuring and later confirmed using the previously mentioned chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis.


It was documented that none of the subjects who ingested the 0.45mg doses of THC screened positive at the 50ng/mL cut off for the tests. However, one of the samples from a participant who ingested a 0.6mg dose of THC did screen positive. Interestingly, a THC intake of 0.6mg each day is equal to the ingestion of 125ml of hemp oil or only 300g of hemp seeds.


The findings of this research do indeed suggest that the consumption of larger amounts of hemp products poses a risk for turning up positive on certain drug testing procedures. A key way to avoid such outcomes would be to strictly monitor your intake of hemp and CBD products before applying for a new job. Cultivate a good knowledge of the products you are using, including how much THC content they actually have, then work within those parameters.

THC and THC-COOH are known to be easily visible on screenings for some time after consumption, potentially between 4-12 days. This also depends on factors like fitness level, metabolism, amount consumed and diet. Although the levels of psychoactive compounds found in hemp products may seem negligible, it is still a topic worth exploring if you are awaiting to take an upcoming drug test.


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